If this registers no reaction from you, let me explain why it should. Paul Goldberger is the crowned prince of criticism. He began his career at The New York Times in 1972, where he worked under Ada Louise Huxtable, our reigning critical queen, and where he won a Pulitzer Prize. In 1997, he switched media empires:
But, after years of “fighting for adequate space” in an increasingly shrinking column, Goldberger won’t be finishing his writing days as Architect Critic of The New Yorker, but as Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair.
Many will conclude that this is a death knell for architecture; that if architecture cannot justify its own column at The New Yorker, one of the most influential publications in the world, then it must no longer be deemed relevant. This is what happened when Michael Kimmelman, an Arts reporter with no architectural training was appointed to cover architecture at The Times. Critics tweeted: “NYT to Architecture of NYC: Drop Dead” and “Architecture: you’ve been demoted.”
I too will add a cry to the din: “The Architecture Critic is Dead!” But you know what? Good riddance. Because criticism hasn’t died the way you think. It’s just been changed beyond recognition. And frankly, for the better.
Read more on the transformation of architecture & its criticism after the break…
Stop right there. Before I begin this post with a cliché dictionary definition, I direct you to what’s usually overlooked in these openings: the part of speech.
Without reading the definition, we know. Design is the act that connects the human being to the object outside him: the way in which intentions, thoughts, concepts take form.
On a basic level, design connects human beings through the shared experience of said object – be it functional or purely aesthetic. But it’s not just the object which connects us – it’s the idea that inspired it. On another level, and perhaps at its purest, design connects by inaugurating us into a collaborative spirit of innovation.
The AIA’s latest Design Conference, Design Connects, has invited bloggers to reflect how design connects us in a way that will build a better future. We at ArchDaily, biased as we may be, think we have the answer (it’s in the invitation): the Bloggers.
To read how design and the Internet connect us to thousands of elementary school kids, the sci-fi dsytopias of a NASA scientist, and a poverty-defying advocate looking to change the world - all in 24 hours – keep reading after the break.
It’s June 1966. Mies’ iconic Seagram Building dominates New York City. Bob Dylan has just released Blonde on Blonde. The Vietnam War is escalating. John Lennon has yet to meet Yoko Ono. Martin Luther King, Jr. has yet to be assassinated. And Don Draper is readjusting to married life – with his 25 year-old secretary.
The excitement over Mad Men, while always eager, was positively explosive last Sunday. The season 5 premiere resulted in the show’s highest ratings to date (3.5 million viewers, up 21% from last year). While the show has always received critical acclaim, now, for whatever reason, it has reached a fever-pitch of popularity.
On a purely aesthetic level, it’s easy to explain. The show draws in audiences with a meticulous, sumptuous set design that allows a nostalgic journey back in time: when design was innovative & clean, architecture was confident (cocky even), and modernism still held its promise.
But on another level, the show is successful because of its inevitability. The very knowledge of the ephemerality of that confidence, a theme particularly relevant to audiences in the wake of the Recession, is what strikes a chord, what makes the show positively hypnotizing.
Watching Mad Men is like watching a Modernist car crash. A beautiful demise.
More on the Modernist Landscape of Mad Men and why the show has struck a chord with audiences today after the break.
Walk into the cafeteria at the Googleplex and you are nudged into the “right” choice. Sweets? Color-coded red and placed on the bottom shelf to make them just a bit harder to reach. “Instead of that chocolate bar, sir, wouldn’t you much rather consume this oh-so-conveniently-located apple? It’s good for you! Look, we labelled it green!” 
Like the Google cafeteria guides you to take responsibility of your health, Google wants to transform the construction industry to take responsibility of the “health” of its buildings. They have been leveraging for transparency in the content of building materials, so that, like consumers who read what’s in a Snickers bar before eating it, they’ll know the “ingredients” of materials to choose the greenest, what they call “healthiest,” options.
These examples illustrate the trend of “medicalization” in our increasingly health-obsessed society: when ordinary problems (such as construction, productivity, etc.) are defined and understood in medical terms. In their book Imperfect Health, Borasi and Zardini argue that through this process, architecture and design has been mistakenly burdened with the normalizing, moralistic function of “curing” the human body. 
While I find the idea that design should “force” healthiness somewhat paternalistic and ultimately limited, I don’t think this “medicalized” language is all bad – especially if we can use it in new and revitalizing ways. Allow me to prescribe two examples: the most popular and the (potentially) most ambitious urban renewal projects in New York City today, the High Line and the Delancey Underground (or the Low Line).
More on “curative” spaces after the break. (Trust me, it’s good for you.)
The announcement instigated a flurry of analyses and criticisms over the meaning of the design for the world – the Zen-like significance of the circle, the role of architecture in this technologically-driven age, the legacy and hubris of Jobs – but produced very little discussion over its meaning for the company itself.
Meanwhile, months before news of the “spaceship” landed, another internet giant was searching the California landscape for its own space to call home. Still very much under-wraps, the new Googleplex will be the first time Google builds a workplace completely from scratch. 
These projects will be the Magnum Opuses, the ultimate physical representations, of the two most influential Tech companies in the world, and the two share striking similarities. So let’s clash the plans of these two titans and take another look at Apple 2 – but this time in the light of Google – and see what they can tell us about these companies’ futures.
“this open, ‘collaborative’ environment, where worker drones so nicely sit in poise out in the open while click-clacking on their computers, creates an atmosphere where people become desensitized to being on display. [...] Sitting and thinking is actually frowned upon as being a waste of productivity. Why are you just sitting there? Why are you not talking, or typing, or writing, or drawing, or multitasking?”
Consider the contemporary office. White floors, minimalist style, no pesky walls getting in the way – just pure, unadulterated openness.
From our assembly-line past has emerged an increasingly consumer-oriented world, in which collaboration and gregariousness are valuable commodities. As a result, offices that resemble art galleries – with the employees on display – have become the norm, and while this sociable environment is energizing for the extrovert, for the introvert, it’s crippling.
In my last article, “In Defense of Introverts,” I posited that learning modalities, which better incorporate our introverted brethren, could revolutionize classroom design. In this one, I expand the concept to that of working modalities: an answer for office design that would engender an office culture sensitive to introverted rhythms and – at last – expand the way we conceive of creativity and innovation as a purely extroverted enterprise.
Reena Jana of SmartPlanet recently interviewed the award-winning, Japanese architect Hitoshi Abe on the lessons he has learned from the March 11, 2011 earthquake that destroyed his hometown in Sendai, Japan. Abe believes that the memory of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the coast of northeaster Japan, triggering a tsunami that sent waves as far as six miles inland must remain fresh in our minds. His goal is to educate everyday citizens around the globe, as well as future generations, on how to better cope with large-scale natural disasters. Currently, he is serving as a guest-curator for a travel exhibition entitled Moving Forward: Life After the Great East Japan Earthquake. This exhibit brings to life the haunting reality of the devastation through a series of large-scale photographs and photographic essays that reveal individual stories of survival immediately following the disaster. The exhibit commemorates the victims and struggles of the survivors, while highlighting the reconstruction and recovery efforts.
Continue reading for more. (more…)
ArchDaily announced in October 2009 that Brazil will be hosting the 2016 Olympic Games, in addition to the 2014 World Cup. Just last August, AECOM was awarded the bid for the design of the 2016 Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro (watch the video here). As preparations for the administrative business of the games seems to be going smoothly, events on the ground say otherwise. The planned Olympic Park will be located on the current site of a favela with a reported population of 4,000 (New York Times: Simon Romero) , known as Vila Autodromo and Riocinha, and those citizens are not satisfied with the prospects of being relocated under the edict of Imminent Domain to satisfy the Olympic Organizing Committee.
More on this story after the break. (more…)
So far, I’ve cited the merits of the playground – the loudest, craziest, most running-aroundiest environment for kids you can imagine – as a point of inspiration for school design.
I think I’ve uncovered a bias. In me, and in architecture at large.
For years, Western culture has valued and rewarded natural born extroverts in its effort to breed out-going, sociable, go-get-’em type citizens. (For two intelligent, chuckle-inducing narratives on the plight of the introvert, check out Jonathan Rauch’s touchstone piece in The Atlantic and Susan Cain‘s fabulous TED Talk).
In my zeal to present solutions to the obstacles facing education, I too got caught in the trap. To rectify this situation, I will – once again – examine schools; but this time, I take a more balanced approach. Today I take into account that bullied, forgotten group: introverts.
No other profession can make the proverbial male measuring contest more visual and dramatic than architecture. Whether it is about being the tallest, most lavish, most modernist, most minimalist, most post-modernist, or most deconstructed, too many, but not all, of history’s celebrated architects come across like a bunch of juvenile boys standing on a stream bank trying to project their urine further than the next. Even with noble ambitions, their narcissistic “fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love,” have often put them out of touch with the plight of their fellow human beings. I will offer a simple and very unoriginal solution to this problem; hire more female architects.
Let’s begin with the obvious: kids like to climb, and run, and get their hands on anything that could (and probably will) break. They like to explore and imagine, create and destroy and create again.
Thankfully, a movement in the world of Education has begun to account for this reality (see:Ken Robinson’s seminal 2007 TedTalk), to leave behind the antiquated schema that children are little adults, and to engage students’ creativity, energy, and need for expression – a task often complicated by the physical constraints of a traditional classroom.
When designing a classroom, architects are keenly aware of the importance of the physical conditions of a learning environment (temperature, crowding, even permeability to the community) on a child’s psyche.  However, as much as we depend upon studies to help us design the “correct” environment, what we ultimately need is a practical, playful perspective that understands what excites and engages children.
We need a source of inspiration. To look at spaces that welcome interaction with the environment and encourage the free reign of energy and imagination. We need the playground.
Community-Oriented Architecture in Schools: How ‘Extroverted’ Design Can Impact Learning and Change the World
You’ve considered every detail: re-thought the spatial configurations of the classrooms to account for over 40 students, ensured that the noise from outside doesn’t drown out the teacher, perhaps even adjusted the storage to kid-friendly heights.
As an architect, you live in the skin of the people who will daily occupy your buildings. And of course, the impact of physical conditions should never be underestimated, especially in the design of a school. Study after study has cited that the correct environment can greatly improve student engagement, enrollment, and even general well-being. 
However, there is another vital way in which design can impact learning. An approach that recognizes the power of society and culture, that aims to create a school not only permeable to the community around it, but charged with positive symbolic value.
In an article originally published on Plataforma Arquitectura, Guillermo Hevia Garcia describes his experience when visiting the Unité d’ Habitation in Marseille, France, also known as Cité Radieuse. On February 9th, the building was overcome by a large fire that was said to have been started due to a heating problem. The blaze took hundreds of firefighters nearly a day and a half to put it out. Eight residential units and four hotel rooms were destroyed, and approximately 35 other units were severely damaged by smoke or action relief. Most residents have returned home to the Unité d’ Habitation, Le Corbusier‘s thesis on domestic life, as they continue to live the communal life that the renowned architect dreamt up.
Read on for more after the break.
Many of you may have probably noticed Scott Timberg’s article “The Architecture Meltdown” (Salon, February 4, 2012) circling the internet. The gloomy article discusses the unknowing future and possible demise of the architectural profession – the “glamour profession of the creative class”. Timberg describes struggling professionals that are either unemployed or working full-time at intern wages within a profession that is largely focused on the 1 percent.
There is no doubt that many architects and recent graduates are struggling. Architecture succeeded with the economy and crashed with it as well. With statistics revealing the highest unemployment rates among those with bachelor’s degrees in architecture and articles flooding the internet with titles “Want a Job? Go to College, and Don’t Major in Architecture” (New York Times, January 5th, 2012), there is not doubt that people are scared and unsure of where the profession is heading. Meanwhile, the (AIA) is cheering for a “2.1 percent rise in spending this year for non-residential construction projects”, a bit of optimism many are grasping onto for hope. However, we are headed somewhere. As Timberg states, “People will always need houses, cities and nations will always need schools and libraries and civic buildings, and trendy restaurants will need redesigns. Architecture will never die completely.”
Please continue reading to see Thomas Fisher’s response to Scott Timberg. (more…)
By David Fano and Steve Sanderson, edited by Julie Quon
A well-known and often cited truism of architecture notes that forty (as in years) is considered young for an architect and most don’t start hitting their stride until they’re seventy. This may partially explain why well-known architects seem to live forever… they’re simply too busy to die. What is often omitted from this narrative is how the architects spent the first twenty (or so) years of their careers as freshly minted graduates prior to being recognized by their peers in the profession as “making it”.
If you approach any architect about their early-career experience in the profession you will get slightly different versions of the same story. They are all, in essence, about paying your dues.
- Taking a low-paying position for an A or B-list architect, where the compensation for long hours is the privilege of anonymous design on important projects, and in return a few hours are spent outside of the studio (usually with a group of similarly indebted classmates) on open design competitions that pay trifle stipends.
- Taking a low-paying adjunct teaching position, ideally in a design studio, where compensation for long hours is the privilege of working on your design interests with students in order to become a part of the elite tastemakers and to one day be shortlisted for an exclusive cultural competition.
- Taking a slightly better paying position with a corporate firm and spending your hours outside of work designing kitchens and bathrooms for wealthy friends and family with hopes that their social reach is broad enough to lead to additional commissions that will one day be substantial enough to make a living.
- Taking a slightly better paying position with a corporate firm and slogging through the incredibly tedious intern development and professional registration process in order to move up the corporate hierarchy. The goal is to eventually become a principal or partner with an established firm or even break off on your own with some of the established firm’s clients.
In each of these scenarios, the only path to a significant commission is to spend the few hours outside of these paying jobs in the pursuit of establishing credibility and reputation through exposure in architectural publications. In any case, it seems that around the age of forty is when all of this hard work finally begins to pay off with consistent commissions. For the vast majority that never succeed by following these models, there is usually a ‘pivot’ (in startup terms, a change in approach) that leads to a stable corporate position, a full-time teaching post, or an exit from the profession altogether (we did the latter, see Fed’s post). The difficulty of ‘being’ an architect is branded about in schools (oftentimes by people with little to no actual experience in the field) as a source of pride, a perverse hazing ritual intended to weed out all but the most dedicated adherents to the ideals of architecture as a pure form of expression, a rationale which further reinforces architecture as an intellectual pursuit for the privileged (that topic is for another post).
We have all heard of patenting building systems, building technologies, details and of course, products. But what about patenting architecture? Jack Martin brought this to our attention in light of Apple successfully getting an architectural patent for the design of a store in the Upper West Side in New York City, asking “On what grounds can you patent architecture?” The inventors listed in the patent are architects Karl Backus, Peter Bohlin and George Bradley of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and Robert Bridger, Benjamin L. Fay, Steve Jobs and Bruce Johnson for a design that Architect’s Newspaper describes as “meticulous and seamless as its clients”.
So, what is the extent of patenting architecture? Structural systems, materials, details, conceptual strategies, the look of it? We interpret architecture as a language in itself, but it is difficult to conceive of copyright infringement when it comes to architectural design because it is difficult to pin-point exactly what makes all of the parts of a building a copyrighted entity. What if Le Corbusier patented his designs? Mies van der Rohe? Frank Lloyd Wright? Their work and strategies have been copied and implemented all over the world to varying degrees. So, where is the line between protecting an original idea and creating a barrier against progress? Or does this commercialization of architecture fuel competition to design better or design around strategies already patented? More after the break.
A REVOLUTION in cognitive neuroscience is changing the kinds of experiments that scientists conduct, the kinds of questions economists ask and, increasingly, the ways that architects, landscape architects and urban designers shape our built environment.
This revolution reveals that thought is less transparent to the thinker than it appears and that the mind is less rational than we believe and more associative than we know. Many of the associations we make emerge from the fact that we live inside bodies, in a concrete world, and we tend to think in metaphors grounded in that embodiment. (more…)
A recent article discussing the disconnect between the decades old Intern Development Program and its effective reality in the current environment brings to light shortcomings that are in dire need of redevelopment. NCARB recently announced an upcoming significant overhaul of the IDP program, which in its current state requires 5,600 hours of various logged tasks in addition to the seven exams for licensure. (more…)
Back from the grave, the first post from The Indicator series by Guy Horton, published in 2010 at AD.
This town, is coming like a ghost town.
This town, is coming like a ghost town.
This town, is coming like a ghost town.
This town, is coming like a ghost town.
- The Specials, “Ghost Town”
When I look back at the events leading up to being laid off, I think of zombies. Of course zombies aren’t real so what I’m really thinking of are movies about zombies. I haven’t seen them all—there are hundreds—so the zombies I’m most familiar with are the pop-locking ones from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or the funny ones from “Shaun of the Dead”. I never thought that that part of my subconscious that identifies with zombies would get triggered. But, then again, I never thought I would get laid off. There is a first for everything.
So, how does one identify zombies? As I learned from “Shaun of the Dead”, by the time you know, it’s too late. Remarkable as it seems, the people you least expect to become zombies are suddenly shuffling along shedding limbs and trying to eat you. They are, as it turns out, usually your close friends and colleagues.
When the economy began to falter back in 2007, architecture was one of those fields that began to experience a steady increase in zombie population. There were many rumors about which firms they worked for, whose softball teams they were playing on, whether they were more likely to be associates or principals. What about that Arch II with the mysterious limp and the foreign accent? Then there was the designer who always looked like he had had too many late nights out. Maybe those strange interns.
Alumni descriptions of the architectural education experience can often range from frustration to admiration. The article Creative Education? An Analysis of Existing Architecture Education in Singapore, written by a fourth year student attending the National University of Singapore, is a collection of thoughts and observations based on this individual’s experience. The article primarily focused on particular frustrations. However, these same frustrations are comparable to those commonly voiced throughout many institutions across the United States.
San Francisco-based IwamotoScott Architecture has just shared their latest project with us – a renavoted 1940s warehouse that holds media company Obscura Digital as well as the architects’ new office space. Upgrading from an unorganized and dimly lit timber warehouse, Obscura looked to Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott to outfit the 36,000 sqf building in Dogpatch to suite their needs, while extending the invitation for the firm to set up its practice in the building, as well. “It wasn’t a formalized agreement but a pretty casual thing,” Iwamoto told Lydia Lee for Metropolis. “Obscura by nature is collaborative. The hope is that by sharing space, we’ll have the advantage of seeing their process and what can be done with digital media, and they’ll get an idea of the architectural possibilities.”
In addition to this great refurbishment, we are fascinated by the architects’ dividing wall entitled BookCaseScreenWall, an amazing hybrid of surface projection technologies with a “traditional” bookcase which sits between their office space and Obscura Digital’s.
Be sure to view our comprehensive photo set of construction photos, finished work, and of course, the BookCaseScreenWall after the break. (more…)